Tech Leaders Outline Post-Pandemic Return To the Workplace


Tech leaders across the world will adhere to enterprise technology to smooth out the process of getting their employees back to the workplace in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, as stated by a report by Forrester Research.

The technology leaders from large companies stated that safety would be a top priority. The report lays out an early-stage road map for IT executives who are busy preparing to reopen the corporate offices. It is a process that will vary by industry to industry, though most businesses will implement plans having multiple stages.

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The first stage is likely to include chief information officers and their teams to return to the job site, as per Andrew Hewitt, a Forrester analyst. He deals with infrastructure and operations professionals. According to him, the initial task would be to devise out an effective strategy for keeping and maintaining employee tech tools, like PCs, mobile devices, monitors, keyboards and mice sanitized and completely germ-free without damaging them. “IT teams will need to have a staging area that’s outside of the front door of the office where employees can bring their home technology in and sanitize it,” Mr Hewitt said.

The second stage would be to convert remote-work capabilities into permanent features of a workplace. This move will enable companies to effectively maintain social distancing by limiting the number of on-site employees at any given time as well as retain and engage their employees into regular work. For the IT departments, this means boosting network capabilities and allowing remote-access login and security features for corporate systems and business applications.

Bob Worrall, chief information officer of networking-products company Juniper Networks Inc., stated that even as some employees do return to physical offices, many who stay back home would require expanded access to corporate networks. During this outbreak crisis, many companies relied on short-term IT fixes to keep operating, and their employees engaged, like setting up remote meetings on Zoom, Google Hangouts or other platforms. Mr Worrall said that more robust solutions would be required as complex business processes are shifted on the online medium over the long term. This also would include accounting, sales and human resources applications.

This move would also require IT, teams, to closely monitor network performance and usage patterns of expanded remote-work tools to eradicate any bottlenecks down the road. Also, many tech leaders would require deploying some form of load-balancing technology to spread surges in traffic across multiple servers.

Around a quarter of Fortune 200 companies are considering reopening workplaces in May with some form of on-site Covid-19 testing. This data was produced by a survey conducted this month by the Employer Health Innovation Roundtable. As of Wednesday, more than four million tests have been held across the U.S., and there are roughly 825,000 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The use of AI and automation will also play an essential role in enabling contact-tracing of infected workers, said James Manyika, chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, a research arm of consulting firm McKinsey and Co. “The measures that will need to be in place to allow companies to reopen and people to return to work will further accelerate the digitization we’ve seen happen so rapidly during the pandemic,” Mr Manyika said.

U.S. country president of global industrial firm Schneider Electric SE Aamir Paul said, ‘Focusing on employee safety means constructing smart ventilation systems in buildings that would provide better environmental conditions. Safeguarding employees and enabling efficiency will need to take centre stage. We’ll see unprecedented levels of capital and technology spending devoted to these areas over the next two to three years’.

Leading technology and operations officer at DocuSign Inc Kirsten Wolberg said the San Francisco-based company has been working on its plan for employees to return to work since the city enacted a shelter-in-place order in mid-March. The city has since extended the order until May 1. DocuSign has more than 2,000 employees. “It’s clear that moving to a 100% remote workforce was a lot easier than it will be to have our employees return to the office,” Ms Wolberg said, citing health and safety concerns for its workers.



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